Do you eat fermented or cultured foods? They're what provide your digestive system with beneficial probiotics. I knew that probiotics were helpful to "get things moving," thanks to Jamie Lee Curtis and her yogurt commercials (which I wouldn't actually buy or eat - though, that's another blog post), but I'm now becoming aware just how much our health; physical, emotional and mental, is impacted by healthy gut flora.
Like the fermentation of dairy products, preservation of vegetables and fruits by the process of lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond those of simple preservation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. (Source) That's an interesting read, I recommend checking it out.
For my first attempt, I made Orangeade Kraut by Donna of Cultured Food Life. Poke around there, too. You'll learn a lot.
Here's what you need to make Orangeade Kraut (my slightly modified version*):
2 quart-size mason jars
1 head cabbage
1 Tbsp sea salt
Enough filtered water to cover shredded cabbage
*Donna just used one orange and added an apple. I didn't have any apples as I made this before our first trip to the orchard.
Have a peek:
So, just peel away the outer leaves and core the cabbage. Shred into a large bowl and toss with the salt, making sure it's good and incorporated.
Line the jars with oranges (that's a little tricky... good luck!), and scoop the cabbage into them. Add filtered water just till the cabbage is covered, and make sure at least an inch of head space is left. Close the jars and let sit at room temperature out of direct light for a few days (I went up to 10!). I burped mine every couple of days and did about 2 taste tests to determine the level of fermentation. Once it tastes the way you want, pop it in the fridge. This can last up to six months in the refrigerator!
I have just a couple of tablespoons at a time, usually while I'm cooking dinner. (I used to cook with wine... now I cook with [other] ferments! )
Next time, I'll section the oranges before putting them in the jars and maybe add a bit of zest. I'm sensitive to the bitter taste of citrus pith and, while it's mild, I don't care for the bitter undertones this kraut has because of it. It's not horrible - I will definitely enjoy my two jars, it's just something to consider if you're sensitive to the pith, too.
Wasn't that easy?
By the way, are you wondering where the vinegar is... after all, we just made sauerkraut? Well, vinegar is the result of industrialization.
Lacto-fermentation is an artisanal craft that does not lend itself to industrialization. Results are not always predictable. For this reason, when the pickling process became industrialized, many changes were made that rendered the final product more uniform and more saleable but not necessarily more nutritious. Chief among these was the use of vinegar for the brine, resulting in a product that is more acidic and not necessarily beneficial when eaten in large quantities; and of subjecting the final product to pasteurization, thereby effectively killing all the lactic-acid-producing bacteria and robbing consumers of their beneficial effect on the digestion. (Source)
Next up... fermented beets and carrots!
Do you ferment? What's your favorite?
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